Friday, January 16, 2009

Endangered Species - The Insanity of Over Regulation

Darling little amigurumi pony by Raewadolly on Etsy

My Dad will read the title of this post and shake his head. We often have vehement discussions about the governments need to over regulate on almost every area of our lives, taking away our ability to make decisions based on common sense. Today I was made aware of a pending regulation in the USA that takes the cake.

Remember the big Chinese made toy scare? Lead poisoning of some youngsters created a panic amongst the population, and toys were removed from the shelves with alarming speed. In reaction to this event, the US government is introducing a new law commencing February 10th, that will make testing of ALL goods intended for under 12 year olds to be tested for lead and phthalates. All of this is set out in the Consumer Products Safety Act. Now we aren't just talking about random product samples here, the legislation says that EVERY product must be tested individually, and (get this) retroactively. This means every thrift store, hand made goods and used goods will have to be tested. How on earth would charities or small business owners be expected to pay for this expense? Will this see the end of a large chunk of business for Etsy sellers, eBay vendors and other on line swapping facilities for families?

And what about the environmental factor? If the only companies that can afford to test their products individually are large corporations, does this mean that we will see even more new plastic rubbish being imported? If the recycling market is crippled for this niche, the consequences could be far reaching. When you consider how quickly children grow out of things, the cost of constantly replacing clothes, toys and equipment for these little bean poles; how many low income families will be further disadvantaged in this time of global economic hardship?

All this makes me count my lucky stars that we aren't faced with the same issue here in Australia. But for those of you in the US, whether or not you have children, this is set to become a land mark issue. If you feel compelled to speak up about this (and do it soon before Feb 10th), there are a bunch of links provided here that will help you direct your ire.

Update: It seems that the CPSA required some clarification after its release, hence this statement was released, outlining that second hand goods do not have to be compulsorily tested. However, if any items sold second hand are found to have unacceptable levels of lead or phthalates, the seller could be subject to civil or criminal prosecution. Still sounds like a big gamble for these smaller retailers...

Sources: Consumer Product Safety Act


Karen T said...

Check this out:

Apparently, it's not as limiting as a lot of us feared. Thrift stores will not have to abide by these new regulations. The new regulations only apply to NEW items.

Heather said...

unfortunatley this is just one of MANY issues i have with living here ithe US.

Violette Crumble said...

Too bad our govt. didn't impose much regulation when it came to our banks. Ooops!

P.S.I read (forgot where) that the new law won't affect makers of items with all natural products. You will only have to test items made from manmade materials.

Vintage Verve said...

Sounds like madness to me!

esme and the lane way said...

Hmmmm, this seems quite ridiculous. I hope that the indie makers using the everyday, reputable products aren't actually going to be affected. I love the little homemade goodies!

Gladis said...

SK, you are correct; it IS insanity. As a mom, I appreciate the govt's concern about lead (I myself was afraid to let my kids use vinyl lunch boxes they received as holiday gifts, as they were made in China), but I doubt it's American manufacturers we should be standing up against.

This is the most asinine policy ever, especially considering the crises that come upon us when we hurt small businesses.

I have made and sold cloth diaper covers online off and on for several years, but now it seems that avenue of doing business is being closed.

However, there is a loophole. USED goods are exempt from the new law. Doesn't help much in the case of cloth diapers, though.

Overall, I think this will require us to be more creative; using materials that won't require special testing, for example.

Perhaps bartering with our goods is outside of the scope of this law.

Hammie said...

Wow, that does seem insanely over regulatory. Basing my understanding of the US politics and the writing of Bills on, well, "Legally Blonde II" I am wondering if big toy manufactures had a say in getting the second hand stuff regulated? to stop those pesky parents and their toy swaps putting their sweatshops and Toy Superbarns out of business??

I myself was the victim of a toy recall when the original Beanie Humpty from Playschool was found to have an ihale-able nose! However 15 years on and I can see why the chewability factor must be taken into account with all toys.


TheSundayBest said...

Please Obama save us!